The Australian Organic & Sustainable Future – hosting the largest organic farmland area in the world!

The Australian Organic & Sustainable Future – hosting the largest organic farmland area in the world!

The Australian Organic Market Report (AOMR) 2023 was published last week and the ORICoop team would like to share some insight into the high growth and export potential for Australian organics – and particularly the massive potential of the organic grain industry in Australia

  • The Australia Organic industry contributes $2.6B to Australia and 22,000+ jobs
  • Organic Exports are forecast to grow by 29% annually from 2021-22 to 2026-27
  • Organic farming revenue is expected to nearly triple over the next 5 years.
  • Woolworths, Coles, and Aldi are responsible for 70% of organic sales
  • Largest certified land area in the world now exceeding over 53M Hectares (70% of organic farmland globally)

Key update from Organic and Regenerative Investment Co-operative (ORICoop)

  • ORICoop is fielding export inquiries and quotes of more than 125,000+ Tonnes ($100m+) of grain from Asia
  • The ORCA Brand is unlocking the export potential for Australian organic grain.
  • Female founder-led, regenerative and organic agriculture advocate, Carolyn Suggate.
  • ORICoop launching the first and largest marketplace for Australian Organic products, starting with grain.
  • Upcoming opportunities include new trade agreements through UK and China, and Asia-Pacific partners
  • ORICoop opened a capital raise of up to $2m for the ORCA Grain opportunity.
  • Producers ranging from the Riverina to the Western Australian wheat belt (over 29,000Ha of farmland)

ORICoop (Organic & Regenerative Investment Cooperative) has released the details of the ORCA investment project.  A project seeded by 5 key organic producers in the Riverina.  And has grown into a substantial National project incorporating producers from the Riverina, the Malle to South Australia and stretching to key producers in the Western Australian wheat belt.  This has provided a significant understanding of the existing barriers and potential innovative solutions to relocalise organic, sustainable and regenerative grain, to lessen the footprint of grains across the industry and to understand the health benefits of organic food with more transparency and vitality for consumers and farmers alike.

ORCA is the first Farmer Owned organic grain brand.  Led by ORICoop, a National Producers Cooperative, that seeks to do business differently.  Farmer Led. Business Driven.  With Sustainability front and centre in how to grow and diversify markets across the organic sector.

Field of sunflowers

 

The Australian Organic Market report outlines the increasing demand for clean and green food.  With the industry growing 14% year on year and with an increased opportunity to capture these strong markets that are health conscious, sustainably focused, and value the on-farm stewardship practices.

Across southern Australia there are incredibly innovative grain producers.  Managing a diverse climate ranging from highly productive irrigation land in the Riverina, to marginal light sandy country in the Mallee and the Western Australian wheat belt” shares Carolyn, ORICoop Executive Director.  To enable these producers to capture the best markets these producers require a diverse mix of market opportunities from livestock feed through to high end premium grain markets.  That enables producers to capture premium markets, spread their risk, and to work closely with manufacturers and bulk buyers that are seeking reliable, high quality Australian grown organic grains for their retail products, for a growing and lucrative market.

Through the ORCA seed project funded by Sustainable Table, ORICoop understands what is being grown, what the challenges to these markets are, and where there are better and more profitable markets from the farm gate.  One of the key aspects of this project was to identify not just the market barriers – but also the physical barriers in terms of storage, processing and manufacturing capacity for organic products.

The project enables ORICoop to demonstrate how organic grain has specific requirements and why the existing commodity based grain supply chain doesn’t support organic producers.  Both in terms of size, capacity and the interest in single origin or select organic grain types for domestic and export.

The next stage for the ORCA project is to co-design and build tailored bespoke infrastructure that is well suited for this mix of grain products that are in high demand from business.  That reduces the footprint of the grain industry.  And provides a higher level of sustainability and integrity from the farm to the end consumer.  

‘‘Just this week we received another export enquiry – for over 50,000T of premium organic grain. That is more than is grown across the whole country currently!’ says Carolyn Suggate, Founder and Director of ORICoop.  “What we need is a coordinated approach to sustainably build out the industry and to capture these strong domestic and export markets that value the clean and green food that organic producers are growing. And builds the capacity for more growers to expand their organic enterprises, increase their profitability while diversifying their risk with mixed crop selections.

Investment into this area must be tailored to the needs of the industry.  It is not one size that fits all.  It’s bespoke infrastructure and technology, with catalytic capital that is innovative, patient and understands the downside risk of our dependence on large commodity based food and farming systems.

The Australian Organic Industry now covers more than 55M hectares of land, with more land certified in Australia than any country or continent in the world.  And the Organic industry is valued at over $2.1B according to the latest market report.

As a National Producer Cooperative we are member based, and our values deeply align with producers and our end buyers.  ORICoop invests back into the industry, providing business services to producers with the best potential for strong markets.  And sharing the upside value of the supply chain with our network as a National Cooperative.  To build out domestic and export markets, spread the risk and expand the opportunity for mutual collective benefit.  That is a true Cooperative!

Farmer kneeling amongst his cover crops on his farm

“The time is now for a new paradigm of investing, where growth is not the main indicator for success, but instead we see transformational ecological, social and cultural changes at the pace necessary to arrest the impact of climate.”

Hayley Morris,
Chair, Sustainable Table,
Executive Director, Morris Family Foundation 

“The Australian Organic sector is a strong contributor to the Australian economy, representing 0.04% GDP and contributing $851M directing and over $2.6 flow on effects. Australia has 70% of the global land under certified organic management, boosting 53 million hectares and farming revenue expected to nearly triple in the next five years. Our organic sector continues to grow year on year and there is still so much more potential to be realized”

Niki Ford,
Chief Executive Officer,
Australian Organic Limited

“Michael Coleman, the lawyer working with ORICoop on the investment, sees the ORCA fund as part of the development of more diverse options for investors interested in both profit and sustainability.  “Institutional and professional investors are like all of us in seeing and generally welcoming the market’s shift towards technology, innovation and sustainability.  Innovative investment options are cropping up everywhere, from retail superannuation funds to private syndicates to click-to-join carbon offset apps.  ORICoop as a member-based, not-for-profit organisation is well placed to meet this demand.  The ORCA fund is innovative, but it meets the fundamentals – it will own tangible assets that will be directly used by the organic producers the organisation exists to serve, and generate a return for both members and investors.”

Michael Coleman
Managing Director
Boxforest Consulting

‘The ORICoop ORCA project is tailor-made to bring together organic producers to develop an organic food supply chain that will benefit all Australians and overseas consumers. The development of ORCA seems very timely in a world where high quality, certified and healthy food is produced and delivered in a reliable and cost- effective manner.’ 

Kevin Franey
Partner, Audit & Assurance
Thomas, Noble & Russell (TNR)

ORICoop represents businesses across Australia that are interested in tapping into the world of healthy, planet friendly, sustainable food and farming systems.  Enabling food and agriculture to provide resilience and profitability in our regional economies.  To lessen the footprint in our production systems.  And to increase the profitability and market capacity for organic and sustainable food into domestic and export markets. We invite you to complete an Expression of Interest to get involved in our mission.

To find out more or register for the EOI see link here https://organicinvestmentcooperative.com.au/invest/

Media Contact:

Carolyn Suggate
carolyn@organicinvestmentcooperative.com.au
0448 778 074

Images are available upon request

Growing with the Grain: The Ungers’ 25+ years of Organic Experience

Growing with the Grain: The Ungers’ 25+ years of Organic Experience

Located on Wiradjuri Country in Peak Hill in Central New South Wales lies two farms belonging
to seasoned biodynamic farmers Ray and Judi Unger. Named Waratah and Marylyn, these
farms feature unique characteristics that make them suitable for different forms of agricultural
activity. Marylyn is formed of heavy clay loam soil packed with rich minerals, making it the
perfect medium to grow cereal crops like spelt, wheat, oats, lupin and pasture.

The fenced tree lines border most of the paddocks on Waratah and create wildlife corridors,
reduce wind erosion, attract bird life and provide fodder to stock during droughts. Waratah
comprises a lighter red ironstone soil type more suited to running their livestock of Merino sheep
for wool and White Suffolk cross for lambs as well as Hereford cattle stock. These distinct but
complementary farm types allow Ray and Judi to run a diversified mixed-farming broadacre
enterprise that offers long-term climatic resilience.

“We have 3,500 acres, and we could nearly crop all that, but we never do,” says Judi.
“We only ever crop about a third as the maximum every year because we do crop rotations, so
we try to crop about one [rotation] every eight years, so we’re sparing the country, we’re not
flogging the soil in the process of growing healthy biodynamic crops and pastures. We’re trying
to build up the organic matter and put it into the pasture phase and use it for grazing. It’s all
quite entwined.”

When Ray’s father bought the farm several decades ago, farming systems were rather
exploitative and heavily reliant on chemical inputs, extracting a considerable toll on the already
marginal agricultural land.

“The farm was heavily impacted by cropping and heavy stocking rates,” recalls Judi, prompting
the Ungers to consider ways in which they could improve the quality and health of their land and
in turn, their crops and livestock.

DiaryAt a conference in Cowra in 1993, Ray heard an organic farmer speak about organic principles and practices and was immediately drawn to the concept. Organic agricultural methods could help produce high-quality agricultural products in a way that protects and improves the natural environment while safeguarding the health and welfare of all farmed species. Without hesitation, Ray and Judi decided to “go cold turkey” on synthetic fertilisers, insecticides and herbicides in the mid-90s and start the journey towards organic certification and farm management.
“I felt this immense weight off my shoulders; we were now in charge of our own destiny,” says Judi.

“We didn’t need an agronomist. We didn’t need people telling us what chemicals need to be
applied and when and where.”

Instead, by adopting the organic philosophy and mindset, Ray and Judi committed to learning
and observing their land, soil and biology to grow healthier food more sustainably. Following the
completion of a TAFE course in organic agriculture, the process of conversion took the Ungers
three years, becoming fully accredited with Australian Certified Organic in 1996 and receiving
A-grade certification for the crop they grew that year. Shortly afterwards, they began looking into
biodynamic practices.

Founded on similar principles to organic agriculture, biodynamic agriculture is a holistic,
whole-systems approach to bring plants, animals, soil, ecosystems and people together.
Biodynamic systems aspire to generate their own on-farm fertility through practices such as crop
rotation, composting and integrating animals to enhance on-farm biodiversity, nurture soil fertility
and enable greater farm resilience against extreme weather events. The Ungers have been
practicing relatively consistent methods for more than 25 years.

But the agricultural sector has changed significantly over this time. The deregulation of
agricultural markets, fluctuating government support and investment, the privatisation of
infrastructure and agricultural services, rising costs for fuel and machinery, and increasing
consolidation amongst farms and across the entire food chain have reshaped Australian
agriculture.

“It’s changed a lot in the 28 years we’ve been doing it,” says Ray.
“A lot more dairy farmers have gone down the organic track, but then dairying has retracted;
there are fewer dairy farms around because they got bigger, just how most farms got bigger.
Cost of production has certainly increased, as has machinery. We probably wear more
machinery out than conventional farmers. They can spray 1000 acres in a day and I can plough
100 acres in a day. We’ve had lots of problems, but conventional farmers have had lots of problems too.”

sheepConventional and organic farming methods have a range of different impacts on soil fertility, biological diversity, livestock health and the health of the farming enterprise.
“We don’t have issues that conventional farmers have with bloat and worms. They’re in a situation where they go into town to buy something to fix their problem and basically they’re told, “If you don’t use this stuff, the sky is going to fall!” says Ray.

“Well the sky doesn’t fall. I can look back now and see we’ve been used by the chemical companies. I couldn’t even tell you what Round Up costs anymore.”
Fluctuating climatic conditions, from the intensifications of droughts and floods, to
unprecedented bushfire conditions, have created increasing pressure on Australia’s agricultural
systems and can restrict growing seasons or wipe out entire harvests.

“The current market has been tough. There are more organic grain producers around and we’ve
had a couple of good years so there’s plenty of organic grain about,” says Ray.
“It’s supply and demand: the current prices [for organic wheat] aren’t enough to cover your
costs. In comparison to the droughts of ‘18 and ‘19, where [demand was high and] it was very
difficult to buy organic grain to feed livestock. That will happen again when there’s another dry
spell.”

Ray and Judi have subsequently invested in sealed storage and silos for grain as a form of
on-farm insurance. It grants the ability to store grain in good years and to carry that through to
market when climatic conditions may impact production, and there is less supply of organic
grain. It’s another way in which the Ungers can take control of when and where they market
their grain, and into which market they sell.

While grain crops such as cereals, pulses, legumes and oilseeds make up a small percentage
of total organic production in Australia, the organic grain industry has a significant opportunity to
expand with the right market development and indicators. Demand for organic products in
Australia and abroad has been rising over recent years, as consumers are increasingly
considering the health benefits and environmental effects of their food choices. This rising
demand is also motivating manufacturers to make organic food more accessible to mainstream
markets.

The Ungers have been considering new ways to add value to their business and tap into this
rising demand, but need to consider the added costs carefully, whether that be in time,
machinery, or labour of value-adding activities. Cleaning, processing, growing special items,
packaging, milling, storage, or distribution operations can all be considered as “value-adding” to
basic farm commodities like grain.

“I’ve looked at trying to value-add products; to clean grain and bag it,” says Ray.
“But you’d need a fair amount of capital to get that all organised; you’d need to set up sheds,
buy machinery and you’d need to employ someone possibly to run that side of the business. But
that comes with more risk.”

“We’re good at what we do, whether that’s wool or sheep or cattle or grain, but we’re flat out
running the farm as we are. So there’s no opportunity without spending a lot more money and
employing more people to go and value-add.”

The Organic and Regenerative Cooperative Australia (ORCA) pilot project seeks to determine
the best and most profitable products for organic grain farmers like Ray and Judi, together with
identifying the market, processing and access barriers that could be resolved through better
collaboration, producer representation or investment in storage or processing facilities.

“If ORCA was able to set up a plant to clean grain and then bag it, hopefully, we could get a
better return and share in the profit from that operation,” says Ray.
Increasing the availability of local abattoirs for the organic industry is another opportunity for
investment that Ray believes will help farmers in the region.
“30 or 40 years ago there used to be an abattoir in most towns, but now there aren’t enough
abattoirs,” says Ray.
“Sometimes our stock, our lambs and our cattle, as well as our wool, goes into the conventional
market.”

The ORCA project endeavours to unlock some of these barriers and to enable strategic
investment into facilities and technology that will lead to better prices for producers. ORCA
investigates market trends and opportunities while providing farmers with the technology and
data they may need to thrive in the organic grain farming industry. Through a tailored online
platform, producers can achieve the transparency and traceability of organic produce now
demanded by processors and consumers, as well as achieve fairer pricing along the entire
supply chain.

Research, education and innovation are key areas that Ray and Judi believe will help them
manage their farm more efficiently and profitably and the long-term sustainability of the organic
industry more broadly. They suggest that agricultural drone systems, for example, have an
unrealised potential to assist with microbial applications for crops or to support and surveil
cattle, all while minimising fuel costs and further impact upon the soil.

Due to the rural isolation that many farmers face, Judi believes that current information and
education systems must evolve to meet the needs of organic growers and younger farmers
wishing to enter the industry. Different knowledge-transfer activities that are organised by and
targeted at the organic farming sector, will help increase knowledge and skills on organic plant
and animal production, processing and marketing.

“Organic farming is a process of continual learning,” says Judi. “Part of it is experimentation and
trialling new techniques and being able to demonstrate what works. It would be great to get a
uni student out on the farm to do a case study and have that research published.”

Judi believes that harnessing the in-depth knowledge acquired through decades of practical
experience and translating this into an evidence base that can be shared throughout the organic
industry will strengthen the sector. Testing new approaches and technologies, building and
compiling rigorous evidence about what works, and disseminating this knowledge widely to
farmers, researchers and policymakers can help improve economic and environmental
outcomes for producers. Judi also believes that such education is key to equipping future
generations of farmers with the skill sets required to prosper in the sector and take full
advantage of innovation.

Ray and Judi are taking part in the ORCA project alongside other organic farmers in the
Riverina agricultural district in NSW. Together, these farmers are sharing their experiential
knowledge, insights and networks to collectively grow together and to diversify and build a
better and more resilient organic market. The vision is to strengthen and sustainably grow the
entire organic value chain, with shared benefits for farmers, manufacturers and consumers.
By collectively working through some of the common barriers faced by organic farmers and
unlocking opportunities for greater on-farm profitability, ORCA is committed to improving and
amplifying the benefits of organic, regenerative and biodynamic farming across the Riverina and
the country.

Written by Eva Perroni, as part of the ORCA project

Have you taken up the new carbon credit actively supporting local farmers?

Have you taken up the new carbon credit actively supporting local farmers?

The carbon credit ledger that is actively supporting local producers?

A new type of carbon credit has taken off in Australia, with the first set of credits quickly being snapped up by buyers keen to reduce their carbon footprint, and know the story behind each of the credits generated.

Eco-CreditsTM are the very first fully farmer-owned carbon credits in Australia, representing not only one tonne of carbon drawdown per credit, but the tireless efforts of local farmers actively improving their on-farm biodiversity and local ecosystems as a whole.

Victorian organic dairy farmers Stephen & Jo Ellen Whitsed and family have produced the first set of EcoCredits sold by ORICoop, and are already seeing the benefits they can bring not only to themselves, but fellow producers.

“The more credits sold, the more that assists farmers in their transition to better, which means more money directly into farmer’s pockets,” Stephen said.

Eco-CreditsTM can be sold anywhere in the world, so that has its own bonus as well.”

While Stephen and his family had already been focusing on increasing the carbon levels in his soil, he believes the income from Eco-CreditsTM could encourage those new to the organic, regenerative agricultural space to improve their farming practices even more.

“We were farming that way anyway, we bought a Soil-Kee Renovator, we were using that to increase multi-species planted into our soil, while also increasing carbon for the overall benefit of our soil,” Stephen said.

“If you’ve got higher carbon levels, you’ve got a better soil, you hold more moisture in your soil for longer so you don’t need to irrigate as often.  That’s a big cost savings for us especially this year when we start to irrigate with the increased price of diesel. We were heading down the path of improving our soils even though we were organic, and increasing our carbon, and when the opportunity came to get paid for our carbon credits, well we were doing it anyway and it’s a great opportunity, so we jumped at it,” he said.

“If we could potentially diversify our income from selling carbon credits we may not milk as many cows, because we currently milk 160 cows on 160 acres, so we’re pushing our country especially under an organic method. So we may reduce our stock levels back a little bit which in turn helps your soil with your farm anyway. And for the person that’s just starting afresh, it’s certainly something that you’d change your farm practice and head that way.”

Stephen & Keenan Whitsed - with one of the tools in their farm management system

Stephen & Keenan Whitsed – with one of the tools in their farm management system

Stephen has four soil dedicated testing zones on his properties in the region, which undergo annual soil testing. By design, Eco-CreditsTM avoids many of the greenwashing and double-dipping claims made for some conventional carbon credits. They are also future-proofed for potential soil carbon changes due to seasonal variation, or natural disasters such as the flooding, fire, and debris from storms faced by Stephen on his family farm based at the headwaters of the Murray River.

 

“Around half the EcoCredits we’ve produced are kept in our buffer reserve in case our carbon levels decrease in a specific year. The Eco-Credits are verified each year, and the footprint of each farm is factored into the number of credits that are released to the market. This ensures that each farm considers it’s footprint before releasing any credits to the marketplace. The environment certainly plays a part in it or if something happens and you have a drought or a fire or a flood or whatever it might be, there is potentially a concern as to reducing carbon levels” Stephen said.

For more information, or to purchase EcoCredits to meet your business offset goals whilst supporting local organic producers bettering their communities and the environment, click here.  Or contact ORICoop directly for more information.

Email – admin@organicinvestmentcooperative.com.au

 

Assessing the renewed pasture growth

The Organic Industry needs your voice – now more than ever ….

The Organic Industry needs your voice – now more than ever ….

We are writing to you as constituents, businesses and producers that are involved in the organic industry across Australia.  We ask you to support the future of our country’s clean and green reputation, and the urgency in preserving our ecosystems and local food security.  The organic industry provides a model for the rest of agriculture, that is localised, transparent and without the additional dependency or high externality costs of conventional agriculture.  Our industry needs your support – and we look forward to adding your voice to our charter.

For too long Organics had been thought of as a niche market or component of Agriculture, but if one takes a world view instead of looking at the microcosm of Australia, we have entities such as the EU wanting to transition 25% of their Agriculture to Organics by 2030 via The Green Deal and Farm to Fork initiatives

Organic and regenerative farming systems can:

  • provide a neutral or positive environmental impact with added benefit of providing co-benefits to the environment and humanity
  • help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts that are already proven by scientific publications
  • reverse the loss of biodiversity via organic standard provisions and verified by academia indicating 30% more biodiversity on organic farms
  • ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food production systems that have been vetted by good science.
  • preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the international supply sector and promoting fair trade

In so doing Organics addresses triple bottom line objectives including:-
Organic Farming enables and accelerates the transition to a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system.  Government investment is required to address deficiencies in advisory services, financial instruments and more importantly participatory research and farmer led innovation are needed instrumentally as they can help resolve tensions, develop and test solutions, overcome barriers and uncover new market opportunities.

Background

  • Value of the organic sector in Australia $3.65B(AU) and worldwide over $88B(AU)
  • Urgency of climate change and the direct impact on agriculture sector
  • Importance of biodiversity value and enhancement on private land
  • Synergy across different sectors including energy, agriculture, health
  • Rewarding land stewardship through ecosystem management outcomes
  • Pioneering industry and independent of Government (historically)
  • Established Net-Zero pathway for agriculture and business to transition

Key Requests from the Organic & Biodynamic Industry to the Federal Government:-

  • One single National Organic & Biodynamic Standard owned by Industry, with the full support of the Federal Government (regulated by State Government)
  • Endorse domestic regulation in Australia. Knowing it’s direct impact and barrier on domestic and international trade entrants and international equivalency markets
  • Improve the integrity and traceability of the organic supply chain domestically and for all imported goods (and reduce the level of fraud and risk to existing businesses)
  • Rewarding producers for their ecological stewardship together with a simple mechanism to ascertain and transition carbon footprint beyond Net-Zero in agriculture and business
  • Ascertaining a biodiversity value on farmland and conversation area (private & public land)
  • State recognised Government bodies that support the growth of organic agriculture 
  • Facilitate a Sensitive Site register provided by State Governments as part of ‘right to farm’
  • Endorse a roadmap in climate resilience, adaptation and long term business resilience planning for regional communities & local economies.   
  • Invest in Research & Development for key biological outcomes across the agriculture sector
  • Provide regular and rigorous data capture through ABARES with tailored organic data for on-farm production, business, supply and export.

The time is now….

Agriculture in Australia is at a crossroads.  Producers are attempting to increase their yields with reducing on-farm profitability while managing higher climate risk exposure than ever before.  We need to capture premium markets (like organics) and empower producers with better business profitability and diversified income streams.   Our Country needs best in class producers that are resilient against natural disasters and rewarded with better crops, profitable and diversified businesses,  healthier and improved natural ecosystems.  We need to review the existing farming model that reflects a more sustainable and resilient farming infrastructure that invests in the next generation of producers, better markets with full consideration of the impact on the environment.

Key Considerations:-

  • True cost of ecosystem services in our waterways, agricultural land, biodiversity and food production should be clearly understood and be a driver of change
  • Research and Education on the importance of carbon reduction, repurpose and offset to underpin regional resilience and transition agriculture beyond net-zero
  • Opportunity to strengthen cross sector links between health, education, agriculture & economics 
  •  Structures that underpin the food security of our country ahead of dependency on large scale, low value commodity markets that may be affected by external pressures

References from around the world:-

Your CALL to ACTION:-

Add your name HERE to our growing list of supporters, so a bipartisan voice can advocate for healthy agriculture and business production systems for the long term.

If you would like more information or to be kept up to date please subscribe to our blog HERE

We look forward to speaking with you further about how you can support the organic industry more in your region.

Sincerely in Action

ORICoop Board

https://www.organicinvestmentcooperative.com.au/

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How to ensure your carbon credits are worth the investment

How to ensure your carbon credits are worth the investment

With recent questions over the legitimacy of the Australian carbon offset scheme, it’s never been more important that carbon emissions are offset with legitimate credits and are free of greenwashing.

Unfortunately, few offerings in the market consider the natural environmental variables faced by the landowners generating the credits, and have the data transparency and accuracy required to inspire confidence that the investment is actually achieving its drawdown goal.

But the recently-released Eco-Credit by ORICoop is addressing many of these key issues in the current carbon offset market.

The farmer-owned credits are backed by extensive data collection and have been developed in accordance with the conditions, biodiversity and operations of each farm they’re provided by. Their transparency of data and the ability to directly purchase Eco-Credits from each farm means investors avoid the greenwashing associated with other carbon credit offerings.

ORICoop EO Carolyn Suggate said ‘All farms are assessed as to their suitability for the program, based on their existing farming practices, the area of the farm and the intentions of future management.’

“We don’t want producers to be at risk from any carbon credit program, to overstate their carbon drawdown, or to be exposed by a natural disaster or severe weather event should the carbon levels in their soil or biodiversity decrease,” Ms Suggate said.

No alt text provided for this image

These limits are a key part of the design- providing investor security, and lessening the risk of overstating any values, especially following farming challenges or natural disasters that can negatively impact soil carbon improvement efforts such as the extensive flooding occurring throughout NSW and QLD recently.

“Through a collective of the credits, ORICoop’s specialist advisory committee oversees each of the credit applications and validation reports. This includes assessing the management practices, the land management zones, the footprint of the farm business plus the soil testing and results. For each project we determine suitable buffers that enable producers to bank a portion of their credits – the credits are validated annually, and depending on buffer limits, a portion is liquidated at the producer’s discretion,” Ms Suggate said.

Each Eco-Credit represents 1 tonne of CO2 drawdown, in addition the credits represent measures each local organic producer has undertaken to actively improve soil carbon, water efficiency and biodiversity within their properties and farming practices.

Michael Coleman, Managing Director of Box Forest Consulting, said the costly setup and operating design of the ACCU market may be resulting in poor outcomes for both producers and investors.

“If it turns out that ACCU projects are not delivering contracted reductions, despite high costs of participation, that’s the worst of both worlds. Hopefully the regulator will improve market integrity, and not just by adding more layers of consultant reports,” Mr Coleman said.

“A simpler, more transparent certification process, with low verification costs, can also offer greater integrity. Certification gets done and reported in a way all users understand and accept. Voluntary Carbon Markets (VCM) should be designed with that in mind, which is what ORICoop has set out to achieve.”

Iain Smale, of Pangolin & Associates, said the Eco Credit will be popular for investors by providing other options for carbon credits which also offer a local impact, which is especially important given per-capita carbon emissions in Australia are amongst some of the highest in the world.

“With the Eco-Credit, you’re having a bigger environmental impact than just a carbon credit,” he said.

The environmental impact of our producer operations is key for Australian-owned organic dairy processor & manufacturer Paris Creek Farms. Paris Creek Farms’ Marketing & Communications Manager Alex Donovan said they are committed to increasing the sustainability of their operations, actively working with their producers to achieve this with Eco-Credits initially playing a vital part.

“With bio-dynamic and organic practices, we’re already using one of the most sustainable and regenerative methods of farming in the world, but we are striving to be even more sustainable. Our ultimate goal is to have our farmers generating their own Eco-Credits,” Ms Donovan said.

Ms Suggate said there are many ways the agriculture sector is transitioning beyond net-zero, and that collaboration to improve trust, legitimacy and the urgency for improving how sustainably we produce food is vital, especially after considering the ‘business as usual’ impact on the environment and the urgency of our changing climate as seen recently by some of the worst floods in history.

“We need science to be well funded to enable technology to be more accessible and trusted across the industry. This includes the measurement capability, satellite data, plus legitimate footprint data for farms across all commodities,” Ms Suggate said.

“In the meantime, our organic farming ORICoop members are dedicated to measuring and validating their soil tests and farm footprint. As their credits are validated, these producers form part of the organic farming ecosystem that invests into best practice, research and sustainability programs through a legitimate farmer-led carbon credit based on international guidelines,” she said.

“That includes soil carbon and biodiversity, rewarding producers for sustainable land stewardship practices, while offering these credits to businesses looking to offset their carbon footprint with legitimate credits that are traceable back to each farm that has generated them.”

If your business is committed to achieving net-zero, offset your carbon emissions directly with credits you can trust – register here now.